Saturday, 17 April 2010

ballot boxes: location, location, location...

Ballot boxes: location, location, location...
Clearing up my desk in the study at home - a bit - I came across a fascinating academic paper on contextual priming. I'd forgotten all about it. But now is actually its big moment. The paper studies voting behaviour given the different venues where you can find ballot boxes.
Here is the core point:
American voters are assigned to vote at a particular polling location (e.g., a church, school, etc.). We show these assigned polling locations can influence how people vote. Analysis of a recent general election demonstrates that people who were assigned to vote in schools were more likely to support a school funding initiative. This effect persisted even when controlling for voters' political views, demographics, and unobservable characteristics of individuals living near schools.
So the fact that polling stations are generally located in schools and other public buildings influences how people vote. It makes proposals to protect school funding more potent. And the proposal that supermarkets be used, would also have an impact.
- Times, 12 April